19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
LEARNING TO WALK ON WATER
If you had been in Peter’s position, would you have walked out on the water to meet Jesus?
Each Disciple struggled in his own way to “follow”. Jesus didn’t just demand a maybe-someday, half-hearted kind of following, but a fully-engaged, all-consuming kind of following.
It’s easy to criticize the Peter for fearing Jesus’ call when we have the advantage of retrospect. We can read about what the Lord can do with someone who gives everything up for His sake. We look back and shake our heads at Peter when he is in doubt, Why don’t you just trust him and walk? But deep down, we know it’s not that easy. We each have our own struggles with trusting Jesus, and they don’t all resemble walking on water.
Even though we know (mentally) that we can trust in the Lord, we still have not grasped (emotionally) that we can trust in the Lord. Recall a moment of surrender of your own: waiting for that phone call, letting go of a breakup, not knowing if you’ll pass a class, finding out you or a loved one is ill, wondering where your life will go when school is over… These are real human moments we share.
God calls us out of ourselves in these moments: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” He knows that we fear. But He asks that we don’t let fear stand in our way of getting to Him. To follow a radical, we must adopt a radical attitude and jump in with both feet. During these moments of pain and uncertainty, God encourages us to surrender, turn to Him, make running leap toward Him. When we hear “surrender,” we often think of giving up. We may think it’s a synonym for oppression or submission; that suddenly letting go might compromise what we really want. But God not only knows the ways of the universe, he also knows the desires of our hearts. And God wants us to trust him with those desires. But it starts with taking a leap to make those possible.
Like Peter, we all resemble children who do not know how to swim. We don’t trust our Father to catch us if we drown. Whenever life presents uncertain or daunting situations, imagine Christ at the other end of the water with a knowing smile on His face. Throwing yourself into the arms of the one who wants the best for you is ultimately liberating. Jesus compels us to make a choice. When you leap, remember that boldness is rewarded.